I’ve been going to Crown Trophy for three years now.
Its a trip I enjoy taking (even though I wait till the last minute sometimes).
Every year I would rush to the shop to pick up the spelling bee trophies and while there talk to the owner, Mr. Greg.
When I first went, I was surprised and impressed to see, he was the owner. Like, I said many times before, most of the shops I go to are owned by Spanish employers.
While some may say it does not matter who own the businesses in your town, I found out that the latter is not true. It matters a whole lot.
When a child see majority of his people owning restaurants, day cares, car washes, sign shops, party stores and so many corner stores that the phrase corner store is interchangeably used with bodega, then that child inwardly feels a sense of self pride (without much begin said).
Seeing Mr. Greg own the trophy shop helps me to puts this race thing into perceptive.
When I first met Mr. Greg, he spoke to me about his daughter who is a dancer in California. Like most proud fathers he boasted of her while telling me of her achievements and how the road raising her was not easy at all but she some how made it.
This time, he spoke about his daughter again but the focus was not so much on him as it was on her. His tone was more serious. This time he was not so much raving about her as he was sharing her testimony. I felt like while he was talking, he felt her hurt.
She’s grown now. I’ve watched her transform from Daddy’s little girl into a full grown women. She has matured in every way. She has learned that your hair has to be a certain texture and your skin a certain tone for you to be fully accepted in the industry. While she was growing up, I provided the best way I could for her to be comfortable and go after what she wanted. I couldn’t explain all of that to her. When you are great at your craft and there are 30 other people in the room great at the same craft, how are you going to make them choose you?
When he was done talking about his daughter, I thought how beautiful it is when parents talk about their children! And if you are a good listener, you can tell that the conversations shifts as the parent and the child grows. The tone and diction the parents use changes as life changes for them.
It’s my first time at Bay Plaza Mall. All the people here look like me, so I feel welcomed but not exactly at home. It’s a weird feeling. The building and its structure does not give me the feeling of pride, like if my people have arrived. Some of the stores are the same stores that once did not allow my people to enter or at least its workers seemed to dislike my people. And, even though they are now in my neighborhood, close to home, it seems things are still the same.
I look up to see Macy’s. I was never a fan of Macy’s. It was never an option. Now, it is, being much closer to home.
But something about this mall in all its glory and lights, is depressing. It really is.
I walk into Aldo shoe store and watch a store clerk tell a young lady the shoes really are one hundred and fifty dollars. The young lady places them back. It wasn’t the only time in the mall when I watched people put things back because of their prices.
Then I remember, this mall reminds me of a mall I went to in Argentina. A mall that was placed in a poor neighborhood. The people could only window shop.
However, in this case, these people are still buying. Could they afford the items? Well in America, you can dress up like you are a part of a different class, even if you are not in that class. Poor people don’t always look poor. In America, you can shop like you are happy with your financial situation.
There are plenty of people with bags. They seem to be proud of their bags. They carry them with long necks and talked with wide smiles. The names on the side of the bag seem to matter more than the items in the bag. American Eagle. Gap. Aeropostale. Victoria’s Secret.
I didn’t shop. I couldn’t shop. So, I told my sisters they could go on without me. I sat down and tried to get a hold to my thoughts.
When I sat down, I thought about what I saw as soon as I entered the mall. I did not see the long lines or the big stores with their big names. I only saw the images of the model and those huge pictures in the windows. Almost all the pictures were of white women, white men, and white children. All the people around me were different shades of brown. The people shopping and the people working were all brown but the pictures hanging in the stores showed almost only white people.
I saw a handful of white people at the mall. I even saw a white janitor and one white worker. There were some white people shopping.
But for the most part, I see a sea of brown. They run the mall but they don’t own the mall. Those who run the mall place their images up, to remind us who run the mall, who really owns it.